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Collision Between Metrolink Train 901 and Mercury Transportation, Inc., Tractor-Semitrailer at Highway-Railroad Grade Crossing in Glendale, California, on January 28, 2000
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Event Summary

Board Meeting : Collision Between Metrolink Train 901 and Mercury Transportation, Inc., Tractor-Semitrailer at Highway-Railroad Grade Crossing in Glendale, California, on January 28, 2000
 
11/27/2001 12:00 AM

Executive Summary

On January 28, 2000, about 5:56 a.m. in Glendale, California, a tractor-combination vehicle, operated by Mercury Transportation, Inc., was transporting an oil refinery condenser unit. The vehicle missed a turn in its planned route, traversed a highway-railroad grade crossing, turned around, and was attempting to retraverse the crossing when it became lodged on the railroad tracks. About 90 seconds later, northbound Metrolink commuter train 901, operated by the Southern California Regional Rail Authority, collided with the vehicle. The engineer, conductor, and four passengers received minor injuries. Total damages were estimated to be over $2 million.

Probable Cause

The National Transportation Safety Board determines that the probable cause of the collision of the Metrolink passenger train with the tractor-combination vehicle was (1) inadequate preparation and route planning for the movement; (2) poor coordination of the movement among the truckdriver, pilot car drivers, police escort, and permitting authorities; and (3) a lack of recognition of the potential hazard caused by the accident vehicle at the grade crossing. Contributing to the accident was the fatigue of the pilot car drivers and the truckdriver.

The following major safety issues were identified in this accident: the appropriateness of the actions of the truckdriver, pilot car drivers, and police escorts; the weaknesses in the planning, coordination, and execution of this oversize/overweight movement; pilot car driver and truckdriver fatigue; and the lack of low-clearance warning signs.

As a result of this accident investigation, the National Transportation Safety Board makes recommendations to the Federal Highway Administration; Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration; city of Glendale, California; American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials; American Association of Motor Vehicle Administrators; Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance; International Association of Chiefs of Police; National Sheriff' Association; Specialized Carriers and Rigging Association; California Professional Escort Car Association; Texas Pilot Car Association; and United Safety Car Association.

Recommendations

As a result of this accident, the National Transportation Safety Board makes the following safety recommendations:

To the Federal Highway Administration, in cooperation and consultation with the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials, the American Association of Motor Vehicle Administrators, the Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance, the Specialized Carriers and Rigging Association, the California Professional Escort Car Association, the Texas Pilot Car Association, and the United Safety Car Association:

Develop a model pilot car driver training program. The training program should address, at a minimum, issues such as (1) how to conduct route surveys; (2) the maneuvering limitations of heavy-haul vehicles; (3) the effects of fatigue on performance; (4) the need to assess the dangers at railroad crossings, particularly for low-clearance vehicles; and (5) the need and requirements to notify the railroads before an oversize/overweight vehicle is escorted across a highway-railroad grade crossing. (H-01-30)

Develop model oversize/overweight vehicle movement guidelines. The guidelines should address, at a minimum, issues such as (1) when pilot cars and police escorts are required; (2) the training, testing, and certification of pilot car operators, police officers, and truckdrivers in the movement of oversize/overweight loads; (3) the use of height poles and traffic controls; (4) how to conduct route surveys; (5) the maneuvering limitations of heavy-haul vehicles; (6) the effects of fatigue on performance; (7) the need to assess the dangers at railroad crossings, particularly for low-clearance vehicles; and (8) the need and requirements to notify the railroads before an oversize/overweight vehicle is escorted across a highway-railroad grade crossing. (H-01-31)

To the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials, the American Association of Motor Vehicle Administrators, the Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance, the Specialized Carriers and Rigging Association, the California Professional Escort Car Association, the Texas Pilot Car Association, and the United Safety Car Association:

Work with the Federal Highway Administration to develop a model pilot car driver training program. The training program should address, at a minimum, issues such as (1) how to conduct route surveys; (2) the maneuvering limitations of heavy-haul vehicles; (3) the effects of fatigue on performance; (4) the need to assess the dangers at railroad crossings, particularly for low-clearance vehicles; and (5) the need and requirements to notify the railroads before an oversize/overweight vehicle is escorted across a highway-railroad grade crossing. (H-01-32)

Work with the Federal Highway Administration to develop model oversize/overweight vehicle movement guidelines. The guidelines should address, at a minimum, issues such as (1) when pilot cars and police escorts are required; (2) the training, testing, and certification of pilot car operators, police officers, and truckdrivers in the movement of oversize/overweight loads; (3) the use of height poles and traffic controls; (4) how to conduct route surveys; (5) the maneuvering limitations of heavy-haul vehicles; (6) the effects of fatigue on performance; (7) the need to assess the dangers at railroad crossings, particularly for low-clearance vehicles; and (8) the need and requirements to notify the railroads before an oversize/overweight vehicle is escorted across a highway-railroad grade crossing. (H-01-33)

To the Federal Highway Administration and the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials:

Encourage the States to adopt the model oversize/overweight vehicle movement guidelines, as addressed in Safety Recommendations H-01-31 and -33, and once developed, to require that oversize/overweight vehicle movements conform to the guidelines. (H-01-34)

To the City of Glendale, California:

Install low-clearance highway-railroad grade crossing signs (W10-5s) at the Grandview Avenue crossing and evaluate other crossings to determine whether the signs are warranted and, if so, install them. (H-01-35)

To the Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance, the International Association of Chiefs of Police, and the National Sheriffs' Association:

Notify your members of the circumstances of the Glendale, California, accident and encourage them to train their officers to make sure (1) that documentation regarding permits is reviewed and verified; (2) that safety briefings to discuss routings and special conditions, including the hazards associated with moving oversize/overweight vehicles over grade crossings, are conducted; (3) that provisions for handling off-route loads are in place; and (4) that necessary notification to the railroads is made before an oversize/overweight vehicle is escorted across a highway-railroad grade crossing. (H-01-36)

To the Specialized Carriers and Rigging Association:

Notify your members of the circumstances of the Glendale, California, accident and during in-service training for heavy-haul drivers, (1) highlight the potential hazards associated with moving low-clearance trailers over grade crossings and (2) emphasize the need to notify the railroads before an oversize/overweight vehicle is escorted across a highway-railroad grade crossing. (H-01-37)


 


 

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